Named after their founder, the Bath of Caracalla represent one of the top tourist sights of Rome, just as essential for spending a genuine Roman vacation as the Coliseum or the Pantheon. The baths (Terme di Caracalla) stretch on the Celian Hill, and they have all the necessary ingredients in order to be deemed a must-visit of the capital: historical background and value, wideness and spectacular vestiges.

Thus, the site stretches on a surface of about 27 acres, on the said Celian Hill. The construction works were initiated under Emperor Caracalla, in the year 212 AD, and they were completed in 6 years only (by some accounts, in 11 years). The venue was not only a complex of thermal baths, but, in truth, they represented one of the largest leisure complexes in Rome. The complex remained functional for about 3 centuries, being seriously damaged by the invading barbarians around the 6th century.

It used to be very popular with the Romans, and the fact the baths could welcome more than 1,500 visitors at a time speaks not only about their popularity, but also about the wide plumbing and engineering infrastructure of the venue. After a thermal therapy session (based on immersions in cold water - in the frigidarium - in medium heated water - in the tepidarium - or hot water - in the caldarium), clients would be provided with massage therapies. They could also work out at either of the 2 gyms (palaestre) or swim in the sun heated pools. Yet, on top of these specific activities, visitors could also enjoy sundry other activities, such as the long walks in the onsite gardens, or reading at the complex’s libraries (containing a huge amount of documents and books, one of them with books in Latin, and the other in Greek) or even admiring artworks at the onsite art galleries. Special shopping opportunities were also available at the Baths of Caracalla, since an entire section of the venue was laid out with shops.

The complex was also notable for its monumental statues and columns. Despite the fact much of the decorative patrimony of the complex was lost, the surviving vestiges hint on the monumentality of the statues, columns, walls and substructure of the baths. By its architectural merits, the complex was used as model in the construction of sundry other public venues around the world, such as the monumental Pennsylvania Train Station. At present, the baths are used only occasionally in public events (the most notable being the gymnastics section of the Summer Olympics hosted by Rome in 1960).

Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla)
52, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100, Rome, Italy